Gazetteer of Historical Australian Places

The Gazetteer of Historical Australian Places (GHAP) is an aggregated gazetteer of Australian placenames, including historical placenames, with coordinates for digital mapping, and advanced search features. 

It includes a searchable index of layers contributed by humanities researchers, institutions, and the community. Launched at the end of 2020, this index will continue to grow and improve. 

Search results and cultural map layers can be visualised in 3D, with timelines and more. 

GHAP is based on the Australian National Placenames Data (ANPS) database. We thank ANPS for gathering this data and to Greg Windsor and David Blair for helping us make it available.

GHAP is a valuable resource that feeds into other TLCMap tools.

To find a placename in GHAP, you can conduct a simple or advanced search. 

  1. Type your search term into the search bar above the map. 
  2. Choose the parameter for your search from the dropdown menu. 
    • Contains: Show results that contain your search term.
    • Fuzzy: Show results with roughly similar spelling. The first results will be exact matches, and then places with less and less similar spelling will be listed.
    • Exact Match: Show results that match the exact term you entered, and no more.
    • anps_id: Show results with IDs from ANPS that match your search term.
  3. Use the checkboxes to choose if you want to search the Gazetteer, Layers, or both. 
  4. Select Search

Your search results will be shown. From here you can save your search, share the results, or view the results on a map

To apply filters and restrictions to your search, make an advanced search. 

  1. Follow steps 1-3 of the Make a simple search procedure.
  2. Select Advanced Search. The advanced search pane will drop down.

Add any Filters you want to restrict your search. Hover over the filter names to learn more about them.

To only search within a specific area of the map, specify a map area. There are three ways to do this:

  1. Choose a shape from the map controls.
    Screenshot of the map controls with three buttons highlighted. One shows a pentagon shape, one a square, and one a circle.
  2. Click and drag anywhere on the map to draw the shape. You can then alter the coordinates of the shape in the advanced search pane.
  1. Under Specify map area in the advanced search pane, choose a shape from the dropdown menu. 
  2. Enter coordinates for the shape. 
  3. Select Draw to draw the shape on the map. 

Under Search within a KML polygon in the advanced search pane, upload a file.

Standards note: This file must be a valid kml format and contain at least one polygon tag. 

Your search will be restricted to this area. 

To search for a list of placenames, upload a file under Search for a list of place names

Standards note: This must be a .txt file. The placenames must be listed one per line, or separated by commas, e.g. ‘Richmond,Footscray’. 

Once you’ve set all the restrictions to your search that you want, select Search. Your search results will be shown. From here you can save your search, share the results, or view the results on a map

If you think you will be revisiting the same search in the future, you can save it for later. 

  1. Select Login at the top right and login. 
  2. Follow the instructions to make a simple search or make an advanced search.
  3. On the search results page, select Save your search

You can find all your saved searches in My searches if you are logged in. 


Layers are additions to GHAP that are contributed by users. They contain data about placenames, events, sites, journeys, people, and more. They can be layered on top of the information in GHAP to show more information or give more context. 

Multilayers group several layers together so their information can be viewed on the same map. They’re useful for showing overlapping or intersecting data from different layers. 

Adding layers and multilayers to GHAP:

  • Makes humanities information more discoverable 
  • Contributes to the deeper meaning of places and people’s knowledge of culture 
  • Helps create interesting and interactive map visualisations 
  • Allows you to share your maps on the web
  • Gives new insights into research through visualisation and analysis 
  1. Hover over Browse layers in the menu. 
  2. Select Layers to view layers or Multilayers to view multilayers. 
  3. Sort the list by Name, Size, Type, Content Warning, Created, or Updated by selecting the relevant heading. 

From here you can select the name of a layer or multilayer to see its details, or select View Maps to open it on a map

To create your own layer, you can just add one or two places, or upload a file of thousands of records.

  1. Select Login at the top right and login. 
  2. Select Browse layers. 
  3. Select Layers. 
  4. Select Create Layer. 
  5. Fill in the form. You only need to enter a title and description. Everything else is optional and you can come back and add in more details later if you want. 
  6. Select Create Layer at the bottom. 

When the layer is created you can add information to it in two ways:

This might be useful if you just want to quickly add a couple of things. 

  1. Click Add to layer
  2. Fill in the form. 
  3. Select Add item
  1. Click Import from file
  2. Upload a file.

Standards note: This must be a CSV, KML or GeoJSON file.

To upload information from a spreadsheet, make sure you save it with the file type ‘CSV’. The CSV column names are important: 


  • ‘Title’ and/or ‘Placename’: If your information is specifically to name places the ‘Placename’ will be the ‘Title’. ‘Title’ and ‘Placename’ can both be used becuase in many cases you want the ‘Title’ that someone sees when they click a point to be informative about more than just the place, and also want to provide the name of the place. Eg: you might want someone to see the title, ‘Bennelong meets Governor Phillip.’ rather than ‘Sydney Cove’.
  • Latitude: Must be in decimal format, eg: -32.929
  • Longitude: Must be in decimal format, eg: 151.772

Example templates: SimpleExampleTitle.csv, SimpleExamplePlacename.csv, SimpleExampleTitlePlacename.csv 


  • Date or DateStart and DateEnd: Dates can be in the format dd/mm/yyyy or yyyy-mm-dd or yyyy. You can have three digit dates. For BC dates, use a negative sign. Eg: 10,000BC would be -10000. You can use a single date, or a span within which an event happened or may have happened. 
  • Linkback: A URL linking to another site relevant to this information. This can be a very important. It can drive traffic to your project’s site, or link back to the source of the record, so that people can access it directly, get more details or see the information within a system that is specially designed for it. Eg: if your layer relates to Trove articles you can link to the Trove article. 

Example templates: RecommendedExampleBennelong.csv, RecommendedExampleBennelongDateSpan.csv 


  • Type: The layer ‘type’ will be applied to every item in the layer, but you can also set it for each record. Check the drop down for what you can put in this column. 
  • State: A state or territory of Australia. 
  • LGA: local government area Feature Term: ANPS data includes hundreds of ‘feature terms’ to label things as mountains, rivers, towns, wells, trig stations, etc, that you can draw from. 
  • Source: where ever possible always credit the source of information so people can confirm and trust the information. This could be a citation or other acknowledgement. 

Example templates: OptionalExampleBennelong.csv 


Any other columns in your spreadsheet will be handled as ‘extended data’ and include in visualisations and data exports from TLCMap, but we can’t adjust or make any assurance about how it will be displayed.

  1. Select Upload file.

If you add a list of records from a file, check that all were added. You can do this by looking at the last record in the layer’s web page and comparing it to the last record in the file you uploaded. If GHAP has failed to upload all records, jump to Troubleshooting to explore solutions.

Add Indigenous records

Any placenames and place meanings that Indigenous people wish to be publicly known can be added to a layer. 

Anybody adding Indigenous places should respect the wishes of Indigenous people and observe protocols for consultation and protection of Indigenous knowledge, places, and culture. GHAP is meant for public information, so do not add places that are secret or where this could result in desecration. 

One suggestion to promote places but ensure they are accessed in the right way is to put the contact point to arrange access on the map, rather than the place itself. E.g., if there is a traditional ochre mine called ‘Red Ochre’ to which guides or tours can be arranged, add the site of the organisation arranging access, and name the place ‘Red Ochre Access Point’ or similar, as preferred. 

GHAP currently includes Indigenous placenames that are part of the Australian National Placenames Data. User contributions have commenced with some Indigenous data sets related to language and history. We are happy to hear of any other major sources of Indigenous placename data to include, or community groups or research projects that want to add layers – contact

Having Indigenous presence and information in TLCMap systems has always been one of our top priorities and motivations. TLCMap projects have, from the beginning, included projects about Indigenous places involving consultation and Indigenous researchers. 

We are also working on visualisations and features for displaying Indigenous information, such as ways to structure and interact with cyclical time, and ways to visualise journeys, that could be used for traditional travel routes. This activity is driven by projects that include Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, consultatively and as researchers. TLCMap also employs indigenous software developers.

Once you’ve created your layer, you can view it on a map or share it with others

You can find all your layers in My layers if you are logged in. 

  1. Select Login at the top right and login. 
  2. Select Browse layers. 
  3. Select Multilayers. 
  4. Select Create Multilayer. 
  5. Fill in the form. You only need to enter a title and description. Everything else is optional and you can come back and add in more details later if you want. 
  6. Select Create Multilayer at the bottom.

You’ll see a page showing the details of your new multilayer. To complete the multilayer, you need to add layers to it.

  1. Select Add a Layer below the multilayer’s metadata table. 
  2. Choose whether you want to add a layer from All public layers or just My layers (i.e. layers you’ve created yourself). 
  3. Choose a layer from the dropdown menu. 
  4. Select Add. 

Repeat these steps to add as many layers as you like. The multilayer will save automatically whenever you add a layer. 

Once you’ve created your multilayer, you can view it on a map or share it with others

You can find all your multilayers in My multilayers if you are logged in.


One of the main advantages of GHAP is the ability to view individual search results, layers, and multilayers on a map. To view a record in a map, look for the View Maps button. You will find it at the top of the search results page, the right of browse layers and multilayers pages, and the top of individual layer or multilayer detail pages.

An orange button that says 'View Maps'.
  1. Select View Maps to see a list of visualisation options for a record. 
  2. Choose any map view option to open the record on a map in a new tab.

Map views

Each kind of map view is suitable for different purposes and projects. 

All map views include options for satellite imagery, street maps, and other common base layer options. All maps also include clickable points that display information. 

To comply with accessibility standards, the colours of the dots on a multilayer map have been selected based on web design guidelines for colour blindness. 

  • 3D Viewer: Shows dots on a 3D map. This is the most basic visualisation and good for simple maps. E.g. 1833 NSW town populations with placenames 
  • Cluster: Shows dots close to each other merged into a large dot with a number indicating how many points are in it. This map is best for large amounts of data, or large search results, or if points are very close together. E.g. 19th Century Australian Bushfire Reporting 
  • Journey Route: Shows a line between points in the order in which they were added to GHAP. This map is best for journeys or showing events that don’t have dates associated with them in a sequence. For example, if you wish to indicate a route, or give directions, these may be followed at any time. E.g. Kokoda Trail

Standards note: Currently, records can’t be reordered in GHAP, and if you edit one it may change the order. For this reason, ensure your data is in the right order before you import it.

  • Journey Times: Shows a line between points in the order of their dates. This map is best for visualising a specific journey where each point has a date, such as a ship’s journey with a log of times and coordinates, or a band’s tour with dates in different cities. It could also be an alternative to the Timeline view, to show the order of events. E.g. The Easybeats ‘Big Show’ Tour 
  • Timeline: Shows an interactive timeline on the map so you can see where events occurred across time. You can move each end back and forward, or select a range and ‘play’ it to watch events show up and disappear in the moving time window. This map is best for collections of events with dates and locations, such as where incidents occurred across the country, or times that institutional sites started and ceased operation. It’s also an alternative for viewing journeys with dates. E.g. Australian Prisons 
  • Werekata Flight By Route: Shows a 3D map with a flying bird’s eye view moving from point to point on a journey route. This map is for animating a journey route. It enables you to better imagine how the journey may feel in person. ‘Werekata’ is Awabakal for kookaburra. E.g. Crocodile and Rainbow Serpent, Walyalup (Fremantle) 
  • Werekata Flight By Time: The same as Werekata Flight By Route, but in order of dates. E.g. Malaspina 1789 


TLCMap, and therefore GHAP, is about open data, making research public and engaging, and enabling re-use of data in further research. The open and transparent sharing of information has always been fundamental to the academic process.

Standards note: In GHAP, layers and multilayers include fields enabling you specify the licencing terms, and any cautions and acknowledgements. If you are unsure about licencing, try Creative Commons for licencing covering common scenarios. We recommend CC BY (anyone can copy and re-use with attribution) which is commonly used for Australian government data, or CC BY-NC (free for non-commercial re-use only).

Handling Indigenous information involves ethical responsibility including and beyond copyright law. Do not upload any information without permission, and in the licencing and re-use section, add terms that anyone wanting to re-use the information should also obtain permission. 

There are different ways you can share GHAP content.

To share the raw data for a search result or layer, select Download to download the data as a CSV (works with Excel), KML or GeoJSON file. You can then send this file to others. 

For those who know a little HTML, a map can be embedded in a webpage by using an iframe. 

The following code:

<iframe src="" width="80%" height="300"> </iframe>

will embed a map in a web page like this:

Some web publishing systems, or organisational web security policies, may have constraints against embedding content from other sites. Check that the page you aim to embed the map in will allow this.

Software developers can use web services API to conduct searches and access layers remotely in their code.


Web services are typically used by developers. You can construct a query using a URL, with GET parameters, to return results in formats that computers can process so it can be used in other systems. E.g. a system that needs to search for Australian place names could call the TLCMap Gazetteer. 

Doing a search through the normal GUI interface produces a URL with the same get parameters the webservice would use – simple. To get this as KML (a species of XML) or JSON, just add an extra parameter to the query string. 

E.g. to fuzzy search for ‘Newcastle’ within NSW and get the results as KML just use:

Here are the full details (note that filters are treated as logical AND conditions, i.e. set intersection. There is no OR functionality.) 

Aliases that reflect Trove web services APIs have been added for ease of use.

Parameter Trove Alias Description Constraints 
id  The TLCMap unique identifier for the record. The identifier is base 16 with any amount of digits. The first letter is a namespace prefix – at time of writing there is only ‘a’ for ANPS gazetteer records and ‘t’ for TLCMap community contributed layers. The ANPS record can also be obtained with anps_id (see below). 
name exactq An exact match between the input and placenames in the registry Searching ‘Newcastle’ will only show exact matches of ‘Newcastle’ not entries such as ‘Newcastle City’ 
containsname  Match a substring Searching ‘castle’ will match ‘Newcastle’ 
fuzzyname A fuzzy search that first searches for entries where the placename CONTAINS the input (%input%), and then checks for placenames that SOUND LIKE the input (mysql soundex). Orders by exact match, starts with input, contains input, then most sounds like input Can handle slight typos (eg ‘Nwecastel’), but must start with the correct letter. Needs adjusting or a better solution 
anps_id  Exact match for an item in the registry with that anps id  
lga l-lga An exact match on the LGA for registry items. Input form contains an autocomplete feature for lga. Unsure if gazetteer contains full LGA data for all entries 
state l-place Search only for entries in this state  
from Search for entries whose anps_id is equal to or greater than this value  
to Search for entries whose anps_id is equal to or less than this value  
format encoding Return the result in the given format Formats are: html, csv, kml, json Selecting csv will automatically download the file instead of displaying in browser 
download  Will automatically download the results to file if download=on Will only work if format is kml,json, or csv Options are on or off(default)\ 
paging Specifies how many results to display per page when viewing in browser. Choosing a lower paging will speed up loading, as it only queries x results at a time. Do not use for non-html formats, it will simply limit the output to x results. If you want your kml/json results split use chunks instead. 
chunks  Split the download into x chunks for kml/json Downloads a zip file with content listed as x children, with a parent/master file referencing them Requires format as kml/json and download=on Needs further testing, not currently on the form. Unsure of how some geographical programs can handle parent/child outputs 
bbox  Specifies a bounding box to search for results within, using decimal format for latitude and longitude. The order is minimum longitude minimum latitude maximum longitude maximum latitude Eg: bbox=143,-34,144,-33 Shows results where latitude is between -34 and -33 AND longitude is between 143 and 144 Requires all 4 to have an input or it will be ignored. Can use either commas or %2C to separate values Gets a little confusing with negatives sometimes, will be simpler with a map widget 


Occasionally you might encounter problems while using GHAP. In this section we’ll cover some common problems and how to fix them. 

The matching the TLCMap staff have done to obtain latitude and longitude is automated. This means there may be some errors. Please contact us about any errors in places.

Of 334208 places in the ANPS data, there were a few thousand that the TLCMap team could not associate with any specific point, so the LGA was used instead. There remain only 1328 places for which we could not devise an automated way to find any coordinate at all. The way the coordinates were obtained is indicated in the results in the ‘Original Data Source’ field. In some cases, ANPS also provides more detailed information on where they obtained the data. 

When you are creating a layer, GHAP may fail to upload all records for two reasons: 

  • Errors: We attempt to identify any problems with the data, such as badly formatted dates or coordinates, and report them. However, some records may be imported before the error, leaving the job half done. Check the row after the last one that was successfully added for any potential problems (e.g., badly formatted coordinates or dates, blank ‘name’ or ‘title’ etc). 
  • Very large layers (e.g., more than 5000 records): Uploading large layers can take a minute to process, so please be patient. In some cases, the layer is simply too large to handle and not all the layer is added. Also, be aware that visualisations of very large layers may take 30 seconds or so to load. This is a limitation of the web that we cannot easily resolve. 


  • If all records were not added, you can simply upload another file containing the missing ones (corrected). Uploading another CSV simply adds the new records to the same layer. 
  • Try breaking the file into several smaller files and uploading them one by one. 

Very large amounts of information (usually around 5000 search results) may cause processing errors and time outs. 

If you are looking at one of your own layers, it may not display if it is set to ‘private’. The 3D visualiser is built using the ArcGIS javascript API. If the data is private the ArcGIS server can’t access it. 


  • Try breaking the file into several smaller files and uploading them one by one. 
  • Set your layer to ‘public’. 

Every now and then, all the code for a page cannot be loaded quick enough, and GHAP stalls. 


This is usually fixed by reloading the page, or forcing a hard refresh (hold down ‘shift’ and click the page refresh button).

Sometimes text on the web displays with question marks, little squares in it, or is garbled (eg: d�j� vu) This is a common problem on the web, especially when text is cut and pasted from MS Word or Excel. This tends to happen for text that isn’t in the basic Latin alphabet, such as letters with accent marks (eg: déjà vu), or for non-Latin writing systems (eg: 中国) or special symbols (eg: © ♫). 

GHAP uses UTF-8 character encoding to ensure support for the full set of UTF-8 characters, which includes almost all languages and writing systems of the world, including many dead languages and many Indigenous writing systems, as well as a wide variety of symbols such as maths symbols and music notation. UTF-8 is now the de facto standard character encoding and used by most systems, especially on the web. 

If you are saving a CSV file from Excel, unfortunately, depending on the version or situation, it may save the CSV file in ‘ANSI’ encoding instead of ‘UTF-8’, which is the de facto standard character encoding.  


  • When saving a CSV file from Excel, under ‘Save as type:’ select ‘CSV UTF-8’. 
  • If you need to get more advanced, try the free text editor Notepad++ which has tools for inspecting and changing character encodings. 

A recent problem with Google Chrome is that it disabled 3D rendering, which the 3D terrain view and Temporal Earth depend on. This type of issue could happen in other browsers too. In some cases, the map simply doesn’t show up, and in others it gives an error message that might mention WebGL. 


  • In Chrome, go to chrome://flags and set ‘WebGL Draft Extensions’ to ‘Enabled’. 
  • For other web browsers, visit to verify that your browser supports WebGL. If it doesn’t, upgrade your browser. If it does, you may need to change your settings. Use your favourite search engine to find how to enable WebGL in your browser, e.g. by searching for the phrase ‘Enable WebGL’. 
  • 3D maps and Temporal Earth can take some time to load, so allow 20 seconds to start seeing something, especially on the first visit, or if you have a slow connection or old computer. Also, try refreshing the page.